Hello out there!
I'm writing today to tell you that I'm thinking of taking on some sort of writing project again. I'm not sure exactly what it's going to look like, except that it will be something in journal form that lets me tell a fictional story that might, coincidentally, have a lot in common with my not-so-fictional life. I wrote the first little bit and I thought I would share for some feedback and just to give you a sneak peak into my little writing world. Also, I can't think of anything else to write today. So, I guess this is what you're stuck with.
Excerpt #1 from To Uona (a work in progress)
August 13, 2009
Today is the first day of the rest of my life. At least, that’s what they tell me. Who is they? you ask.. Who isn’t it? We’ve got the Hallmark card company and the Chicken Soup for the Soul books and all the sappy music you can handle to let you know that today is the day that really counts – the day you can pick yourself up and choose the direction of your life and make something out of your future. In May there will be a whole new slew of inspirational T-shirts and tailor made songs for the graduating class of 2010, telling them it’s the first day of their rest of their lives. My class got a song called something stupid like, “Don’t Forget to Wear Sunscreen”. I can’t remember the name for sure, but my whole body tenses up each May when I hear it on the radio and I think about the difference between what it was we all thought we were supposed to have become and where we all stand right now.
Telling us that today is the first day of the rest of our lives is just like telling us we can do anything we want, so long as we put our minds to it. It’s total shit, of course. I could no more pick myself up and decide to be a pilot than my cat could pick himself up and decide to make himself a seeing-eye dog. I’m a writer. I was born a writer and I’ve spent my life as a writer and I’m still a writer and I’m going to die a writer. It is what it is. Oh, I guess theoretically I could go to flying school and learn to be a pilot and take all the tests I need and get all my certifications – I could even make a living flying a plane…. but I’d still never really be a pilot. I’d still always be a writer.
Besides, it’s not like this first day of the rest of my life cancels out the last 27 years. They want me to believe that today I can choose the direction of my life because they want me to step up and be something better than I’ve ever been, but the truth is that I’ve been choosing the direction of my life since I was roughly 12 years old.
This is one of the great lies of my generation. I can never really be a pilot and my cat can never be a seeing-eye dog. My friend Cuthbert can never be straight; believe me, he tried. No wonder our generation is so fucked up. We grew up with all these ambitions about everything we could be only to realize once we hit 23 that we were already everything we ever had the capacity for. Maybe that’s why it feels like, at 28, most of my peers have given up. Me, I’m just happy that I know I’m a writer. It isn’t glamorous and I’m not famous and very few people really care what I have to say, but I know what I am. I know where I fit and I have the sense to stay there and grow rather than run around the world trying to find the part of myself that was in there all the time, burning myself out more and more as the years go on wondering why I never became anything great while completely ignoring the fact that there was never anything in me the masses would consider great in the first place.
Today I turned 28. Cuthbert bought me this journal because Curthbert knows that very little makes me as happy as a journal with a plain cover I can doodle macabre messages on and college-ruled lines inside. Like I said, I’m a writer. I think Cuthbert would’ve gotten me some nice pens too, except that he knows the only pens I really like are the ones the United Way gives away each year when they come to my office and ask for a donation. I have no idea where they order those from, but I’d give to their annual campaign just to get my hands on the pens they hand out with their donation forms. As it is, I just steal them off my co-workers’ desks. Again, I’m a writer. I can’t afford to give to their campaign.
You, dear Uona, were named this evening after several rounds of Irish Mist on the rocks and half a pack of clove cigarettes. Consider yourself honored; you have been named after a song from one of my most beloved bands. Homeless J has a song about a woman named Uona that their lead singer met in Jerusalem one day. According to said lead singer, the rest of the people he was traveling with wanted to go to a Hard Rock Café. This seemed remotely stupid to him as he can go to the Hard Rock Café any old time here in the States, so he hung out outside and met a woman named Uona. Then he wrote a song about it, slapped it into an album, and bam! I was inspired. You shall be henceforth be known as Uona if for no other reason than I want to remember never to trade experiences of the unknown for safe familiarity. It’s so easy to walk into the Hard Rock Cafés of the world, Uona, without even realizing that you’ve walked by something more interesting on your way in. America does that to us, I guess. Wal-Marts and strip malls make it so we never have a change of landscape, no matter where we go. No wonder Mr. Lead Singer’s friends were uncomfortable hanging out outside.
Tonight I’m sitting outside on the small landing that separates my back door from the stairs of the fire escape on my apartment building. From the fifth floor here I can see all the way downtown. In the summer, when we have our annual fireworks display at the end of our annual summer festival (read: excuse to indulge in junk food and cheap knick knacks) I can see the fireworks from the fire escape. No one else seems to come out and sit on their fire escapes, so it serves as the only quiet little space of the world I can indulge in outside. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t designed as a writer’s hangout, but as long as no one minds I’m claiming it as my own.
My cat Sam is sitting at the screen door looking out at me like he always does when I sit out here. I don’t know why I’m so much more interesting when I’m outside, but apparently I am. If I were inside and writing away, Sam would do what any normal cat does – ignore the hell out of me and scrounge for whatever morsels of people food he can find. Funny little cat he is.
I guess this is my moment of truth, Uona. You see, tomorrow morning will be Sunday morning and my grand plan is to drag myself out of bed at a reasonable hour and drive to the nearest church for services. I haven’t been in three years for reasons I don’t have the time or the energy to explain tonight. Perhaps I’ll dig deeper if the church experiment goes well tomorrow. I’m scared out of my mind yet at the same time strangely exhilarated. I can’t tell you exactly why I need to go to church tomorrow. I don’t understand myself and I suspect that even if I did, that understanding would be too vague to put into words. I just know that I need to go. I’ve been too long without a God and I feel lost. It’s funny how most of the people I know see God as this omni-present traffic officer, waiting for you to screw up so He can dole out Hail Marys or write your sentence to hell, and yet most of us still need something to reach out to in the middle of the night that can chase the monsters back into our closets and tuck us back into bed. I don’t know what God really is, or if He exists, or what it means if He doesn’t. I just know I need something, Uona, and I don’t know where else to go to get it.